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The Scholastic Aptitude Test made its debut in 1926 and has been the bane of many a high school student’s existence ever since. This standardized test takes place seven times a year with the first date occurring in October and the last in June. The last test for this year’s season will take place on June 7.

The SAT tests skills in critical reading, mathematics and writing. According to The College Board, it is one of the most effective measures of a student’s college readiness. For students, it is one of the keys to getting into the college of their dreams. While the test itself takes three hours and 45 minutes to complete, the preparation time for many students extends far beyond that time.

High school students have a number of options when it comes to getting themselves ready for one of the most important tests of their lives (after all this is the test that helps get them out of their parents' home). Here’s a look at some of their test preparation options and their different advantages:


Private tutoring offers students the ability to work around their schedule and specific needs. Students work directly with an expert instructor, and they have their choice of meeting place (library, home, school). According to Anna le Noble, director of events for the Princeton Review (REVU), a private tutor for 25 hours can cost anywhere from $2,625 to $9,450 depending on the level of teaching required.

Classroom courses offer students an expert instructor in a small class setting as well as the availability to learn from their interaction with other students. The classes generally have no more than 12 students and cost between $699 and $1149 for 30 hours of instruction.

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Small group tutoring takes the advantages of both private tutoring and classroom courses and combines them. This preparation vehicle is taught by an expert teacher to a maximum of three students. The students get the individualized attention they want, but are able to learn from each other at the same time. These classes run between $1752 and $1512, depending on location, for 24 hours of tutoring.

There are a number of online courses offered to students including The College Board's The Official SAT Online Course and The Princeton Review's SAT Online Course. The choices generally include a lesson with live interaction with a teacher, a regular lesson between the student and his or her computer and an express tutorial for those taking the test sooner rather than later. The live courses cost about $900 for 50-70 hrs, the regular online courses are just over $500 for 40-60 hrs and the express tutorials are about $107 for 3 hours of lessons.

Students can buy preparatory books, such as The College Board: The Official SAT Study Guide, that are intended to help them understand the strategies and ideas included in the SAT test. They generally sell for $20 to $30.

Of course, students can always skip a preparatory regiment all together, but le Noble doesn’t recommend that route. “One course isn’t necessarily better than another but they give students an idea of what to expect and an understanding of how to approach the test.”

Good luck!